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Dos and Don’ts of Garbage Disposals


There was recently a garbage disposal hubbub in the news when Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed her astonishment at her new garbage disposal and admitted never having seen one before. Apparently, garbage disposals are not common in New York, though it seems that in the rest of the country they’re pretty ubiquitous. Still, even if you’ve lived with a garbage disposal for most of your life, do you know how to properly use it? While every system has its own requirements and capacity, there are some general do’s and don’ts you should always keep in mind when dealing with a disposal.

Garbage Disposal Do’s:

  • Do run cold water, never hot, just before turning on the garbage disposal, while it’s in use, and for about 30 seconds after it stops grinding.
  • Feed food scraps a little bit at a time into the garbage disposal, bearing in mind that it’s not a trash can and can only handle biodegradable waste.
  • Use your disposal to get rid of small pieces of vegetables, boneless pieces of meat, eggs, cooked cereals, and so on.
  • If your sink starts to have a bad odor, put a few pieces of lemon or orange peel into the garbage disposal to keep it fresh. Freezing vinegar in an ice cube tray and tossing the frozen cubes into the disposal will also help clean and sanitize it.
  • Use ice to sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal, putting ice cubes in while it’s grinding.
  • Run your unit at least once a week, even if you’re not using it to dispose of waste. Just keep cold water running and turn on your disposal for a minute or two.
  • If you need to open the garbage disposal for any reason, turn it off and wear safety glasses and gloves.

Garbage Disposal Don’ts:

  • Don’t use hot water in your disposal, because that can make grease liquefy and clog your drain.
  • Don’t pour leftover grease into the disposal. Instead, refrigerate it until it solidifies, then throw it into the garbage.
  • Don’t leave food scraps in the disposal to be discarded, because leaving things sitting in it can damage your unit.
  • Don’t put large pieces of food down the disposal.
  • Don’t throw hard things like eggshells, oyster or shrimp shells, or bones into the unit, because these things can damage the blades and clog the drain pipes.
  • Don’t use your disposal for high-fiber foods like onion or potato peels, corn husks, artichokes, lettuce, celery, or unpopped popcorn kernels.
  • Never put non-biodegradable items like plastic, glass, metallic items, aluminum foil, paper, wood, or sponges into the disposal.
  • Don’t use your disposal to grind up tea bags or coffee grounds.
  • Don’t put pasta, spaghetti or rice into the disposal, because they’ll expand in the drain and cause clogs.
  • Don’t turn off the water before the grinding stops, because this can burn out the motor.
  • Never stick your hand in the grinding chamber when it’s running, but even if it’s switched off, wear safety gloves before doing so.
  • Don’t clean your garbage disposal with harsh chemicals or bleach.

If you’re careful with your disposal, it should function well for you and last a long time without needing repairs. When something does happen, though, it’s smart to know who to call for help. At Albert Nahman Plumbing and Heating, we are passionate in our pursuit of safety, professionalism, and excellence in caring for our customers, co-workers, and community. That’s why this family-owned business has been around for 30 years, consistently delivering the customer satisfaction that’s earned us our superb reputation. A full-service plumbing company, we provide a wide range of services which include expert repairs to existing plumbing, water, gas, and sewage systems, copper piping, water main replacements, trenchless sewer replacements, and water heater installations. We also provide renovation services for kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms, to update the design or upgrade the energy efficiency. Contact us through our website or call (510) 876-9725 for more information on all we can do for you.

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